Christian Egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal or level), also known as biblical equality, is a recent adaptation of the moral doctrine of Egalitarianism which holds that people should be treated as equals. Ultimately, Egalitarianism holds that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth and moral status.
Christian Egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.
According to Christian Egalitarianism, gender equality in Christian church leadership (including pastors) and in Christian marriage is biblically sound. Its theological foundations are interpretations of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and other New Testament principles. It refers to the biblically-based belief that gender, in and of itself, neither privileges nor curtails a believer’s gifting or calling to any ministry in the church or home. It does not imply that women and men are identical or undifferentiated. Christian Egalitarianism affirms that God designed men and women to complement and benefit one another.
The opposing view is Christian Complementarianism, a theological view held by some Christians that differing, often non-overlapping roles between men and women, manifested in marriage, church leadership, and elsewhere, is biblically required.
Egalitarians’ interpretation of scriptures and spiritual convictions
bring them to the conclusion that the manner and teaching of Jesus
abolished discrimination against racial minorities, slaves, and women,
in both the church and marriage. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28.
Jesus did not conform to a mentality unfavorable to women, but reacted against inequalities based on sexual differences. By calling women to follow him he showed that he went beyond the customs and outlook of his environment.
Illustrative of efforts to institutionalize this notion are these excerpts from the organizational Statement of Faith of Christians for Biblical Equality, a current Christian Egalitarian organization:
We believe in the equality and essential dignity of men and women of all ethnicities, ages, and classes. We recognize that all persons are made in the image of God and are to reflect that image in the community of believers, in the home, and in society.
We believe that men and women are to diligently develop and use their God-given gifts for the good of the home, church and society.
Prominent Christian egalitarians
Paul King Jewett, author of Man as Male and Female (1975) and The Ordination of Women (1980)
William J. Webb, author of Slaves, Women and Homosexuals (2001)
Stanley Grenz, author of Women in the Church (1995)
Gordon Fee, contributing editor to Discovering Biblical Equality (2004)
Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, co-editor of Discovering Biblical Equality (2004); author of Good News for Women (1996) and Women Caught in the Conflict (1997)
Mary J. Evans, author of Woman in the Bible (1984) and co-editor of The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (2002)
Catherine Clark Kroeger, co-founder of CBE; co-editor of The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (2002); co-author of Women, Abuse and the Bible (1996), I suffer not a Woman (1998)
Gilbert Bilezikian, author of Beyond Sex Roles (1985)
Ruth A. Tucker, co-author of Daughters of the Church (1987)
Aida Besançon Spencer, author of Beyond the Curse – Women called to ministry (1985)
Linda Belleville, author of Women Leaders and the Church (2000)
Craig S. Keener, author of Paul, Women and Wives (1992)
Kenneth E. Hagin, author of The Woman Question